FIVE YEARS AGO, Culture Type began reporting on new appointments of Black curators, primarily in museums. The first review in 2016 was prompted by findings published by the Mellon Foundation (2015) that showed American museums employed very few Black people in positions that shape them in terms of their management and intellectual direction as institutions of research, education and cultural exploration. According to Mellon, the figures for these positions—museum leaders, curators, conservators, and educators, were appalling. Only 4 percent were held by African Americans.

Mellon partnered with research consultant Ithaka S+R and working in collaboration with the Association of Art Museum Directors and the American Alliance of Museums, conducted surveys in 2014 and 2018. The latter survey showed some improvements with increased representation for African Americans, rising to 11 percent in the category that includes intellectual staffing. Within these ranks, while marked improvements were recorded in curatorial and education, increases were negligible in conservation and leadership.


New 2021 Appointments: Clockwise from top left, Rhea L. Combs (National Portrait Gallery); Meg Onli (Underground Museum); James Claiborne (Barnes Foundation); Jane’a Johnson (FOAM); Jamillah James (MCA Chicago); Akili Tommasino (The Met); Maria Rosario Jackson (NEA); Liz Andrews (Spelman Museum); Isolde Brielmaier (New Museum); and theo tyson (MFA Boston).


Much has happened in the field since the last survey. Museums closed for nearly all of 2020 due to COVID-19 and nationwide calls for social justice brought to light entrenched racism in U.S. institutions, including museums and cultural organizations. Seeking a reset from racial reckonings and pandemic closures, museums spent the past year figuring out the way forward. New health and safety protocols, budget challenges, depressed attendance, adjusted exhibition schedules, and newfound interest in diversity, equity, and inclusion, were accompanied by the churn of standard operations, including new 2021 appointments. The announcements have included significant opportunities for curators.

In New York, some of the nations top museums and art spaces have recruited Black curators for leadership positions. Naomi Beckwith joined the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum as deputy director and Isolde Brielmaier was tapped as deputy director at the New Museum. Black art curators were also hired at the Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the DIA Art Foundation this year.

The Kitchen, a storied experimental art space that presents exhibitions and performances across disciplines, recruited Legacy Russell away from the Studio Museum in Harlem to serve as executive director.

Major 2021 appointments were also made in Washington, D.C., at Smithsonian museums and the National Gallery of Art. Prominent institutions dedicated to Black art and culture have welcomed new leaders, too, including the Underground Museum and California African American Museum, both in Los Angeles, Spelman College Museum of Fine Art in Atlanta, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem.

Black leaders are also taking the reins of influential art schools and academic programs, where future artists, curators, and arts leaders are educated. Since July, Kymberly Pinder has served as dean of the Yale School of Art. In January, Eric Pryor becomes president of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. In April, the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, R.I., will welcome Crystal Williams as president. All three are historic appointments, marking the first time the leadership posts have been held by a Black person.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Senate confirmed Maria Rosario Jackson as chair of the National Endowment for the Arts. She is the first African American and Mexican American to helm the independent government agency whose FY 2021 budget of $167.5 million provided grants to individuals artists and arts organizations in communities throughout the country.

This year, Culture Type’s annual list of curatorial and leadership appointments concentrates on U.S. museums and also includes several art centers, organizations, and schools, as well as a selection of international hires (in chronological order according to announcement dates). The 2021 list of 69 new hires is not comprehensive, but it is representative:



Akili Tommasino, 2021 | Photo © Gregston Hurdle, Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art

Akili Tommasino, Associate Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art | Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, N.Y.

In early January, the appointment of Akili Tommasino as associate curator in the Modern and Contemporary Art department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was made public. A scholar of the 20th-century avant-grade, Tommasino had been serving as associate curator of modern and contemporary art at the Museum of Fine Art, Boston, since 2018. Previously, he was a curatorial assistant in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (2014-18). Tommasino started at The Met in April.


Kanitra Fletcher. | Courtesy National Gallery of Art

Kanitra Fletcher, Associate Curator of African American and Afro-Diasporic Art | National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

The National Gallery of Art (NGA) announced the appointment of Kanitra Fletcher to the newly created position of associate curator of African American and Afro-Diasporic art on Jan. 13. Fletcher joined NGA from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), where she started as a curatorial assistant in 2017, and rose to associate curator. She officially started at NGA on Feb. 1 and has been working on “Afro-Atlantic Histories,” the landmark exhibition that originated in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and is currently on view at MFAH, before traveling to NGA where it opens April 10.


Naomi Beckwith. | Photo by Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

Naomi Beckwith, Deputy Director & Chief Curator | Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, N.Y.

On Jan. 14, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum named Naomi Beckwith deputy director and Jennifer and David Stockman Chief Curator, a major appointment at a prominent international institution. She joined the Guggenheim from the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, where she held curatorial roles since 2011, most recently senior curator. With Valerie Cassel Oliver, Beckwith co-organized “Howardena Pindell: What Remains to Be Seen,” the first major retrospective of the New York artist. Beckwith was also part of the curatorial team that stepped up to work on the New Museum exhibition “Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America” after the death of Okwui Enwezor. Earlier in her career, she was an associate curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Beckwith’s tenure at the Guggenheim began in June.


Lekgetho Makola. | Courtesy Javett-UP

Lekgetho Makola, CEO | Javett Art Centre at the University of Pretoria in Pretoria, South Africa

Javett Art Centre at the University of Pretoria (Javett-UP) announced a new CEO on Jan. 25. Lekgetho Makola officially joined Javett-UP in the leadership post on Feb. 1. Makola earned an MFA at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and brings a spectrum of arts administration and programming experience to the center. At the time of his appointment, Makola was serving as head of the Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg. In previous roles, he worked at Durban Art Museum, Robben Island Museum, and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


Cameron Shaw. | Photo by Matt Sayles, Courtesy CAAM

Cameron Shaw, Executive Director | California African American Museum, Los Angeles, Calif.

Cameron Shaw was elevated to executive director of the California African American Museum (CAAM) after serving as deputy director and chief curator of the museum since September 2019. The news was announced Feb. 22. Before joining CAAM, Shaw was the executive director of New Orleans-based Pelican Bomb, a nonprofit contemporary art organization that presented exhibitions, public programs, and arts journalism.


Christina Shutt. | Courtesy ALPLM

Christina Shutt, Executive Director | Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Springfield, Ill.

Christina Shutt was named executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM) on March 5. Shutt previously headed the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center in Little Rock, which celebrates Arkansas’s African American history and culture. Previously, she was associate librarian for Special Collections and Instruction at Hendrix College in Conway, Ark. She has also worked at the Center for the History of Medicine at Harvard University. Shutt’s ALPLM appointment was effective on June 8. She is the first African American to lead the library.


Lauren Haynes. | Photo by Rana Young

Lauren Haynes, Senior Curator | Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University, Durham, N.C.

The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University announced the appointment of Lauren Haynes on March 11. She joined the museum as Patsy R. and Raymond D. Nasher Senior Curator of Contemporary Art. Since 2016, Haynes has been at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., where she coordinated the first U.S. presentation of the international traveling exhibition “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power” (2018). Most recently, she served as director of artist initiatives and curator of contemporary art at Crystal Bridges and The Momentary. Previously, she spent a decade at the Studio Museum in Harlem. She began at the Nasher Museum on June 7.


Deana Haggag. | Photo by Braxton Black

Deana Haggag, Program Officer – Arts & Culture | Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, New York, N.Y.

After serving as president and CEO of United States Artists (USA) for four years, Deana Haggag accepted an appointment at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation as a program officer in Arts and Culture. The news was announced March 12. Recognizing both the valuable contributions artists make to society and their economic challenges, USA fellowships provide direct support to artists and cultural practitioners through annual cash awards. Haggag started at the Mellon Foundation on May 17, focusing on grantmaking and projects with a diverse group of artists and organizations “working outside traditional boundaries and institutional walls.”


Veronica Stein. | Courtesy Art Institute of Chicago

Veronica Stein, Executive Director of Learning and Public Engagement | Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago, Ill.

On March 19, the Art Institute of Chicago appointed Veronica Stein to the position of Woman’s Board Executive Director, Learning and Public Engagement. The role calls for her to “explore what museum education can be, guiding a holistic vision for learning and creativity that fulfills the needs of diverse constituents of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities.” Stein previously served as program director at Chicago’s Snow City Arts Foundation, an organization that harnesses the arts to help educate and inspire children and youth in hospitals. She started at the Art Institute on April 19.


Eric L. Motley. | Photo © Tony Powell

Eric L. Motley, Deputy Director | National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

On March 22, the National Gallery of Art (NGA) announced the appointment of Eric L. Motley as deputy directory with responsibilities including “developing and deploying a national strategy for the museum through civic, cultural, and philanthropic partnerships, and advancing the National Gallery’s renewed mission in tandem with its operational and revenue-generation plans.” Motley joined the National Gallery from the Aspen Institute, where he had served since 2007, most recently as an executive vice president and the corporate secretary. He officially started at NGA on Aug. 30.


Tonya M. Matthews. | Courtesy IAAM

Tonya M. Matthews, CEO | International African American Museum, Charleston, S.C.

The forthcoming International African American Museum (IAAM) named Tonya M. Matthews CEO on March 24. A biomedical engineer, she founded The STEMinista Project, a national initiative focused on exposing middle-school girls to STEM tools and careers. She also served as associate provost of Inclusive Workforce Development and director of the STEM Innovation Learning Center at Wayne State University in Detroit. Previously, Matthews was vice president of museums for the Cincinnati Museum Center and acting director of inclusion for the American Alliance of Museums. IAAM is currently under construction and expected to open 2022.


Damon Reaves. | Photo by Elizabeth Leitzell, Courtesy National Gallery of Art

Damon Reaves, Head of Education | National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

On March 29, the National Gallery of Art announced the appointment of Damon Reaves as head of education. An experienced educator in museum and classroom settings, Reaves brings more than a dozen years of experience to the position. He joined NGA from the Philadelphia Museum of Art where he had been on staff since 2011, most recently serving as interim senior curator of education and public programs. Reaves officially started at NGA on June 7.


Raymond Codrington. | Courtesy Weeksville Heritage Center

Raymond Codrington, CEO | Weeksville Heritage Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Raymond Codrington joined Weeksville Heritage Center as CEO. Weeksville is a cultural center and historic site of one of the oldest free Black communities in pre-civil war America. Codrington’s appointment was announced on April 6. A cultural anthropologist, he had served as executive director of Hi-ARTS in East Harlem since 2015. He starts at Weeksville on April 19.


Rhea L. Combs | Photo by Abe Mohammadione / Ideas United

Rhea L. Combs, Director of Curatorial Affairs | National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.

Rhea L. Combs joined the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery (NPG) as director of curatorial affairs. The news was announced April 6. Previously, she was working at another Smithsonian museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, where she was curator of film and photography and head of the museum’s Earl W. and Amanda Stafford Center for African American Media Arts. Combs began her new role at NPG on May 10.


Eunice Bélidor. | Photo © Charlène Daguin

Eunice Bélidor, Curator of Quebec and Canadian Contemporary Art | Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Quebec, Canada

On April 7, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts announced the appointment of Eunice Bélidor as its Gail and Stephen A. Jarislowsky Curator of Quebec and Canadian Contemporary Art (1945 to Today). She is the first Black person hired full-time in the museum’s history, which dates to 1860. Bélidor established her career as an independent curator, critic, and researcher. Since 2019, she had served as director of FOFA Gallery at Concordia University in Montreal. Bélidor officially started at MMFA on April 12.


Danielle A. Jackson. | Photo by Elliott Jerome Brown Jr.

Danielle A. Jackson, Curator | Artists Space, New York, N.Y.

Artists Space appointed Danielle A. Jackson as curator. Artists Space focuses on emerging ideas and emerging artists with an “attentiveness to the social and intellectual concerns which actively inform artistic practice.” She joined the Tribeca nonprofit on April 7. Jackson had been serving as a curatorial assistant in the department of media and performance at the Museum of Modern Art since 2018.


Adrienne Edwards. | Photo by Bryan Derballa

Adrienne Edwards, Director of Curatorial Affairs | Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, N.Y.

The Whitney Museum of American Art promoted Adrienne Edwards to Engell Speyer Curator and Director of Curatorial Affairs, effective July 1. The news was announced on April 8. Edwards had been serving as curator of performance at the museum since 2018. While she joined the leadership ranks of the museum, Edwards continues to direct the Whitney’s performance program. She is also co-curating the 2022 Whitney Biennial. Prior to the Whitney, Edwards served as curator at Performa in New York, for nearly a decade (2010-18).


Daisy Desrosiers. | Photo by Gabe Souza

Daisy Desrosiers, Director and Chief Curator | Gund Gallery, Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio

On April 12, Gund Gallery at Kenyon College named Daisy Desrosiers director and chief curator. An interdisciplinary art historian and curator, Desrosiers had been serving as director of artist programs at the Lunder Institute for American Art at the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, Maine, since 2018. She officially started at Gund Gallery on June 1.


Brenda D. Tindal. | Courtesy Harvard Museums of Science and Culture

Brenda D. Tindal, Executive Director | Harvard Museums of Science and Culture, Cambridge, Mass.

Brenda D. Tindal joined Harvard University as executive director of the Harvard Museums of Science and Culture (HMSC). The news was announced on April 14. She officially started on May 17. Tindal is leading six research museums under the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, including the Harvard Museum of the Ancient Near East, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, University Herbaria, the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, and the Mineralogical and Geological Museum. Previously, she served as founding director of education and engagement at the International African American Museum in Charleston, S.C.


Rashid Shabazz. | Photo by Rog and Bee Walker of Paper Monday

Rashid Shabazz, Executive Director | Critical Minded, New York, N.Y.

Critical Minded announced Rashid Shabazz as inaugural executive director on May 5. Under the umbrella of Allied Media Projects, Critical Minded is a grantmaking and advocacy initiative founded in 2017 by the Ford Foundation and Nathan Cummings Foundation to provide support for U.S. cultural critics of color. Shabazz brings a wealth of experience at the intersection of media, art, and social justice to the position. He previously served as chief marketing and storytelling officer for Color of Change. Shabazz officially joined Critical Minded on June 23.


Phylicia Rashad. | Courtesy Howard University

Phylicia Rashad, Dean, College of Fine Arts | Howard University, Washington, D.C.

On May 12, Howard University announced Phylicia Rashad would serve as dean of the newly established College of Fine Arts (which was later named for late Howard graduate Chadwick Boseman). An alum of Howard, Rashad is a Tony Award-winning actress who has appeared on stage, film, and television. She has also directed for theater and served as an adjunct faculty member and guest lecturer at several institutions, including Howard, New York University, Vassar College, Carnegie Mellon University, Wayne State University, Juilliard, and The Black Arts Institute of the Stella Adler Studio of Acting. In 2011, Rashad was also the first Denzel Washington Chair in Theater at Fordham University. Her Howard appointment was effective July 1.


E. Carmen Ramos. | National Gallery of Art. Photo © 2021 Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington

E. Carmen Ramos, Chief Curatorial and Conservation Officer | National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

On May 13, E. Carmen Ramos was named chief curatorial and conservation officer at the National Gallery of Art (NGA). She is the first woman and first person of color to serve in the role. Ramos joined the National Gallery after 11 years at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM), where she was the acting chief curator and curator of Latinx art. Previously, she served as deputy chief curator. She was first hired SAAM in 2010. At NGA, Ramos officially started in August.


Nichole N. Bridges. | Courtesy Saint Louis Art Museum

Nichole N. Bridges, Curator of the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas | Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, Mo.

The Saint Louis Art Museum (SLAM) promoted Nichole N. Bridges to Morton D. May Curator of the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas. The news was announced May 17, coinciding with renovation of a suite of galleries where the museum’s collection of Oceanic art is on view. Bridges organized the refreshed presentation in collaboration with subject expert Philippe Peltier. Bridges joined SLAM in 2013 as associate curator in the department. Previously, she was associate curator at the Newark Museum and head of the Department of the Arts of Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific Islands at the Baltimore Museum of Art.


Rujeko Hockley. | Photo by Scott Rudd

Rujeko Hockley, Associate Curator | Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, N.Y.

At the Whitney Museum of American Art Rujeko Hockley was promoted from assistant curator of contemporary art to Arnhold Associate Curator, a newly endowed position, effective July 1. Hockley co-curated Julie Mehretu’s mid-career traveling survey, which opened at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, was recently presented at the Whitney, and is now on view at Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minn. She also co-curated the 2019 Whitney Biennial. Hockley joined the Whitney in 2017. Previously, she was assistant curator of contemporary art at the Brooklyn Museum. The promotion was announced May 20.


Allison Glenn. | Photo by Rana Young

Allison Glenn, Senior Curator & Director of Public Art | Contemporary Arts Museum Houston in Houston, Texas

On May 25, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH) announced Allison Glenn was joining the museum as senior curator and director of public art. She had been serving as associate curator, contemporary art at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark. Glenn guest-curated “Promise, Witness, Remembrance,” a highly regarded exhibition memorializing Breonna Taylor at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Ky. (April 7-June 13, 2021). She officially started at CAMH on Aug. 1.


Kymberly Pinder. | Photo by Eve Caughey, Courtesy Yale

Kymberly Pinder, Dean, Yale School of Art | Yale University, New Haven, Conn.

On June 1, Kymberly Pinder was named Stavros Niarchos Foundation Dean of the Yale School of Art, one of the nation’s top art schools. Pinder is the first Black person to lead the institution since it was founded in 1869. She is an internationally recognized scholar of race, representation, and religion in American art and the history of murals with nearly three decades of experience in higher education. A professor, curator, and academic leader, Pinder joined Yale from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) in Boston, where she was interim president. She joined MassArt as provost and senior vice president of academic affairs in 2019. In previous roles, Pinder was dean of the College of Fine Arts at the University of New Mexico (2012-18), responsible for the state’s largest fine arts program, and chair of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Department of Art History, Theory and Criticism (2007-10). Pinder is an alum of Yale, where she earned multiple art history degrees, including her Ph.D. Her term as dean began on July 1.


Karen Comer Lowe. | Photo by Joeff Davis, Courtesy Hammonds House Museum

Karen Comer Lowe, Executive Director & Chief Curator | Hammonds House Museum, Atlanta, Ga.

Karen Comer Lowe was appointed executive director and first chief curator at Hammonds House Museum in Atlanta, effective June 1. Subsequently, her appointment was announced on June 11.Comer Lowe has a spectrum of experience in the Atlanta arts scene, most recently she served as manager and curator at Chastain Arts Center. Her new role marks a return to Hammonds House, where she began her career as program coordinator 25 years ago. Hammonds House Museum was established with a collection of 250 works by Black artists assembled by Otis Thrash Hammonds, an Atlanta anesthesiologist who purchased a large Victorian home to house his holdings.


Gabi Ngcobo. | Via Javett-UP

Gabi Ngcobo, Curatorial Director | Javett Art Centre at the University of Pretoria in Pretoria, South Africa

On June 4, Javett Art Centre at the University of Pretoria (Javett-UP) announced the official appointment of Gabi Ngcobo as curatorial director. She had been serving in the position in an interim capacity since October 2020. Ngcobo curated the 10th Berlin Biennale (2018) and co-curated the 32nd São Paulo Art Biennial (2016). She has been a lecturer at the Wits School of Arts in Johannesburg (2011-20) and co-founded the collaborative platforms Center for Historical Reenactments, and NGO – Nothing Gets Organised. At Javett-UP, Ngcobo curated the exhibition “All in a Day’s Eye: Politics of Innocence in the Javett Art Collection” (2019-2021).


Joy Bivins. | Photo by Jonathan Blanc, New York Public Library

Joy Bivins, Director | Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York, N.Y.

On June 4, the New York Public Library announced the appointment of Joy Bivins as director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the renowned cultural institution, library, and research center in Harlem. Bivins was elevated to the position. Since June 2020, she had been associate director of Collections and Research Services at the Schomburg. Previously, she served as the chief curator at the International African American Museum in Charleston, S.C. Bivins officially began her new role on June 21, succeeding Kevin Young. She is the first woman to lead the Schomburg since the tenure of Jean Blackwell Hutson, who served from 1948 to 1980.


Legacy Russell. | Photo by Andreas Laszlo Konrath

Legacy Russell, Executive Director | The Kitchen, New York, N.Y.

Since 2018, Legacy Russell had served as associate curator of exhibitions at the Studio Museum in Harlem. In September, she joined The Kitchen as executive director and chief curator. Her appointment was announced June 8. Founded in 1971, The Kitchen is one of New York’s oldest nonprofit art spaces. Its programming focuses on innovative, research-based, and experimental projects with emerging and established artists working across disciplines (visual art, video, film, performance, dance, music, theater, and literature). Russell is the author of “Glitch Feminism: A Manifesto.”


Horace D. Ballard. | Photo by Jeneene Chatowsky

Horace D. Ballard, Associate Curator of American Art | Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, Mass.

Harvard Art Museums announced the appointment of Horace D. Ballard as Theodore E. Stebbins Jr. Associate Curator of American Art on June 10. A curator, professor, and theologian, Ballard joined Harvard Art Museums Division of European and American Art, where he is overseeing the collection of pre-20th-century American paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts. He arrived from the Williams College Museum of Art, where he was hired as assistant curator (2017-19) and rose to curator of American art. Ballard officially joined Harvard Art Museums on Sept. 1.

“I believe in the capacious potential of academic museums to refine the ethics of our attention. The Harvard Art Museums have long been a laboratory for innovative, multidisciplinary approaches to the material and visual cultures of human civilization. I spent time in the collections as a graduate student, and I experienced firsthand the power of art to incite empathy, wonder, and sociopolitical change. The field of American art is in a period of reckoning and reflection; I am thrilled to be joining the Harvard Art Museums at such an exciting moment.” — Horace D. Ballard


Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung. | Photo by Alexander Steffens, Courtesy, HKW

Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, Director | Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany

On June 16, Haus der Kulturen der Welt announced curator, author, and professor Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung would be its next director. The national center for contemporary art is funded by the German government. Ndikung is a professor for the MA programme Spatial Strategies at the Weißensee School of Art in Berlin. He served as artistic director of the 13th Rencontres de Bamako 2021, the biennial of African photography in Mali. Ndikung was also curator of Dak’Art 2018, the African Contemporary Art Biennale in Dakar, Senegal. At Haus der Kulturen der Welt, he succeeds Bernd M. Scherer, a year from now, on Jan. 1, 2023.


Julia Grosse. | Photo by Benjamin Renter

Julia Grosse, Associate Curator | Gropius Bau, Berlin, Germany

Gropius Bau announced the appointment of Julia Grosse as associate curator on June 24. An art historian and critic, Grosse is co-founder of the Berlin-based ContemporaryAnd, “a dynamic platform for reflecting and connecting ideas and discourses on contemporary visual arts” with an international focus on Black and Latin American art, artists and curators. Describing itself as “one of the most important exhibition venues in Europe,” Gropius Bau is currently presenting “Zanele Muholi” and “Emeka Ogboh. Ámà: The Gathering Place,” among other shows.



Ngaire Blankenberg. | Courtesy Smithsonian

Ngaire Blankenberg, Director | National Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art (NMAfA) announced the appointment of Ngaire Blankenberg as director on July 1. She officially started July 6. A consultant for museums and heritage sites around the world, Blankenberg has advised clients on some of the most challenging matters cultural institutions are currently navigating—how to address diversity issues, approach decolonization strategies, find innovative ways to connect cultural resources to new audiences, and become more engaged in the community and society around them. She began her three-decade career in television and documentary production before focusing on museums.

“Museums are institutions that carry a lot of systemic baggage from their colonial origins, but they are vital public spaces to reconsider how we connect and contend with one another and the planet, and where we can redefine, heal and reconcile.” — Ngaire Blankenberg


Salome Asega. | Photo by Jeremy Grier

Salome Asega, Director, NEW INC. | New Museum, New York, N.Y.

Salome Asega was appointed director of NEW INC, the cultural incubator of the New Museum on July 1. For the past four years, Asega had been serving as the inaugural New Media Art Research Fellow for Creativity and Free Expression at the Ford Foundation. She rejoined the New Museum after previously working on a project in the museum’s education department (2014), serving as a member of the NEW INC community from 2016-17, and as an IdeasCity Fellow in 2017. Asega started in her new role on July 26.


Liz Andrews. | Courtesy Spelman College

Liz Andrews, Executive Director | Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta, Ga.

The Spelman College Museum of Fine Art announced the appointment of Liz Andrews as executive director on July 7. An artist, curator, and museum professional, Andrews was serving as executive administrator of the director’s office at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) when she was selected, succeeding Andrea Barnwell Brownlee. Andrews worked at LACMA for nearly five years in an expansive role that included diversity and inclusion work, as well as curatorial duties. She is co-curator with Christine Y. Kim, of the current LACMA exhibitions “Obama Portraits Tour” and “Black American Portraits.” Andrews officially joined Spelman on Aug. 2.


Elvira Dyangani Ose. | Photo by Josep Lago Dalmases

Elvira Dyangani Ose, Director | Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

On July 22, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona (MACBA) announced Elvira Dyangani Ose will be its next director, serving under a five-year contract. Dyangani Ose was director and chief curator of the Showroom in London and a lecturer on visual cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London, at the time. She brings extensive international experience to MACBA, including curatorial roles at the Tate Modern in London, Creative Time in New York, and the Rencontres Picha – Lubumbashi Biennial in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Dyangani Ose started at MACBA in September. She is the first woman and first Black person to lead the museum.


Oluremi C. Onabanjo. | Photo by Naima Green

Oluremi C. Onabanjo, Associate Curator of Photography | Museum of Modern Art, New York, N.Y.

A curator and scholar of photography and the arts of Africa, Oluremi C. Onabanjo was named associate curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. The appointment was made public on July 8. Onabanjo has worked internationally, organizing exhibitions across Africa, Europe, and North America. She previously served as director of exhibitions and collections for The Walther Collection, one of the foremost private photography collections in the world. In 2017, Onabanjo co-curated “Recent Histories: Contemporary African Photography and Video Art” and edited the accompanying exhibition catalog. She started in her new role at MoMA on Oct. 18.


Isolde Brielmaier. | Photo by Quil Lemons

Isolde Brielmaier, Deputy Director | New Museum, New York, N.Y.

On July 22, the New Museum appointed Isolde Brielmaier deputy director. Brielmaier oversees external affairs and marketing and communications, including media partnerships, publications, and visitor experience, as well as NEW INC., the museum’s cultural incubator dedicated to art, design, and technology. She also plays a key role in the museum’s policy and strategy decisions. Her appointment was effective Sept. 1. Brielmaier continues to serve as assistant professor of critical studies at NYU’s Tisch School in the Department of Photography, Imaging, and Emerging Media. She is also curator-at-large at the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York, where she curated “Tyler Mitchell: I Can Make You Feel Good.”


Christopher Blay. | Courtesy Houston Museum of African American Culture

Christopher Blay, Chief Curator | Houston Museum of African American Culture, Houston, Texas

Christopher Blay joined the Houston Museum of African American Culture (HMAAC) as chief curator. The news was announced July 22. A writer and curator, Blay had been serving as an art critic and news editor at Glasstire, an online magazine that covers visual arts in Texas. Previously, he spent a decade as curator at Art Corridor Galleries at Tarrant County College in Fort Worth, Texas. Blay officially started at HMAAC on Sept. 1.


Grace Deveney. | Photo courtesy the Art Institute of Chicago

Grace Deveney, Associate Curator of Photography and Media | Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Ill.

Grace Deveney started at the Art Institute of Chicago as the David C. and Sarajean Ruttenberg Associate Curator of Photography and Media on July 14. Her appointment was made public on July 23. Deveney was associate curator of Prospect.5, the contemporary art triennial in New Orleans at the time and has been serving in both roles concurrently (through Jan. 23, 2022). Previously, Deveney held curatorial positions at MCA Chicago, from 2014-19. After starting as a Marjorie Susman Curatorial Fellow, she was hired as a curatorial assistant and rose to assistant curator. During her tenure at MCA Chicago, Deveney organized a major survey of Christina Quarles.


Jane’a Johnson. | Photo by Lindsay Calmettes and Mandy Draper

Jane’a Johnson, Artistic Director | Foam, Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam, The Netherlands

On July 23, Foam, which describes itself as an international and multifaceted photography museum, named Jane’a Johnson artistic director. Johnson joined Foam from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where she was an assistant professor of Theory of Art + Design, taught courses in visual culture, and was a research fellow at the Center for Social Equity and Inclusion (SEI). Previously, she worked at Brown University’s John Hay Library, Providence Athenaeum Library, the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, the California State Library, and Sacramento Public Library. As an undergraduate at Spelman College, Johnson was an exchange student at the University of Amsterdam. More than a decade later, she returned to the city, where she officially started at Foam on Oct. 1.


Adrienne Elise Tarver. | Photo by Eley Photo

Adrienne Elise Tarver, Director of Programs | National Academy of Design, New York, N.Y.

The National Academy of Design appointed Adrienne Elise Tarver director of programs. The news was announced Aug. 5. An interdisciplinary artist, educator, and administrator, Tarver has exhibited and taught internationally. Previously, she served as associate chair of fine arts at Savannah College of Art & Design, Atlanta (2019-21) and director of art & design for the Harlem School of the Arts (2017-19). Established in 1825, the National Academy “promotes art and architecture in America through exhibitions, education, and research,” working with its community of National Academicians, artists and designers who are leaders in their fields.


Vivian Crockett. | Photo by Ciara Elle Bryant

Vivian Crockett, Curator | New Museum, New York, N.Y.

On Aug. 24, the New Museum announced the appointment of Vivian Crockett as curator. A Brazilian American scholar and curator, Crockett specializes in Latinx art and art of the African diaspora. Recently, she contributed to the “Afro-Atlantic Histories” exhibition catalog. Crockett is joining the New Museum from the Dallas Museum of Art where she has served as the Nancy and Tim Hanley Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art since March 2020. She starts at the New Museum on Jan. 1, 2022.


Tyler Shine. | Photo by Abby Warhola

Tyler Shine, Assistant Curator of Art | Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, Pa.

On Aug. 31, The Andy Warhol Museum announced the appointment of Tyler Shine as assistant curator of art. He joined the museum Aug. 30. Shine was a graduate lecturer at the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania, and a graduate teaching fellow at Penn, where he is a Ph.D. candidate in the history of art. Previously, Shine was the inaugural Constance E. Clayton Fellow at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2016-18) and a museum assistant at The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. (2013-15).


Ashley Jordan. | Via Association of African American Museums

Ashley Jordan, President & CEO | African American Museum in Philadelphia, in Philadelphia, Pa.

The African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP) welcomed a new president and CEO. The appointment of Ashley Jordan was announced Sept. 8. Previously, she served as senior director of development at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. Jordan has also served as executive director of the Evansville African American Museum in Indiana and held a curatorial position at the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center in Wilberforce, Ohio. Jordan officially joined AAMP in September.


theo tyson. | Photo by Frances Neyra Claudio

theo tyson, Curator of Fashion Arts | Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in Boston, Mass.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) hired theo tyson as Penny Vinik Curator of Fashion Arts, responsible for building the museum’s collection of 20th- and 21st-century fashion, organizing exhibitions and programming, and leading the Fashion Council, a group dedicated to supporting the museum’s fashion arts program. The news was announced Sept. 9. Tyson’s background includes 20 years in the fashion industry before transitioning to her curatorial practice. She previously served as the Polly Thayer Starr Fellow in American Art and Culture at the Boston Athenæum. In Atlanta, she held positions at the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art and SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film. tyson started at MFA Boston on Nov. 1.


Tavia Nyong’o. | Photo by Camillo Godoy

Tavia Nyong’o, Curator of Public Programming | Park Avenue Armory, New York, N.Y.

On Sept. 13, the Park Avenue Armory announced the appointment of Tavia Nyong’o as curator of public programming. Nyong’o is chair of Theater and Performance Studies and William Lampson Professor of Theater and Performance Studies, American Studies and African American Studies at Yale University, responsibilities he has continued in tandem with his new role. At the Armory, Nyong’o leads public programming, organizing “talks, salons, symposia, performances, and other activations that bring artists, activists, cultural leaders, scholars, and audiences into dialogue about contemporary issues through an artistic lens.” In 2022, he is launching Making Space, a new program series “that addresses the fault lines in our racial and social order.”


Maurita N. Poole. | Courtesy of Maurita N. Poole

Maurita N. Poole, Director | Newcomb Art Museum at Tulane University, New Orleans, La.

Maurita N. Poole is the new director of Newcomb Art Museum. The appointment was announced Sept. 14. Poole joined Newcomb from Clark Atlanta University Art Museum (CAUAM), where she served for six years. As director and curator at CAUAM, Poole focused on shoring up the institutions’s infrastructure and opportunities for Southern artists and the next generation of museum professionals through residencies (Black Optics Artist Residency) and fellowships (Tina Dunkley Fellowship in American Art). In New Orleans, Newcomb is among the host institutions participating in “Prospect.5: Yesterday we said tomorrow,” the citywide contemporary art triennial.


Jordan Carter. | Photo by Lori Sapio

Jordan Carter, Curator | Dia Art Foundation, New York, N.Y.

The Dia Art Foundation announced the appointment of Jordan Carter as curator on Sept. 21. Carter joined Dia from the Art Institute of Chicago where he served most recently as associate curator of modern and contemporary art. Forthcoming at the Art Institute of Chicago, Carter is organizing exhibitions of stanley brouwn and Shahryar Nashat and co-curating “Ray Johnson c/o,” the first major institutional presentation of the artist in more than two decades. Carter’s curatorial practice focuses on Fluxus, the avant-garde art movement that emerged in the early 1950s, and global Conceptual art of the 1960s and 70s. He brings “broad expertise in the period of art history that sits at the core of Dia’s collection,” according to Dia Director Jessica Morgan. He officially started at Dia this month.

“I look forward to contributing to Dia’s mission of championing and expanding the histories and legacies of Minimal and Conceptual art of the 1960s and 70s, and engaging living artists in sustained and meaningful ways that extend these stakes and dialogues into the 21st century.”
— Jordan Carter


Rob Fields. | Photo by Abbie Fields

Rob Fields, Director | Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling, New York, N.Y.

On Oct. 4, the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling in Harlem announced the appointment Rob Fields as the new director of the institution. Fields previously served as president and executive director of Weeksville Heritage Center in Brooklyn. He started at the children’s museum on Sept. 27.

“Not only do we have the opportunity to make the Sugar Hill community even more vibrant, but we can show how—through creativity and collaboration—the arts build better citizens. And we’re going to start with our youngest citizens and their families.” — Rob Fields


Danny Dunson. | Photo by Charles Coussey

Danny Dunson, Director of Curatorial Affairs | DuSable Museum of African American History, Chicago, Ill.

Danny Dunson assumed the role of director of curatorial affairs at the DuSable Museum of African American History on Oct. 4. An art historian, advisor to artists and collectors, curator, and writer, Dunson is the founder of Legacy Brothers, a consultancy that provides artist development services and recently established a residency program offering grants and guidance to upstart artists. Last December, Dunson curated “Collective Reflections: Contemporary African and Diasporic Expressions of a New Vanguard,” a group exhibition at Gallery 1957 in Accra, Ghana.


Maria Rosario Jackson. | Photo by David K. Riddick

Maria Rosario Jackson, Chair | National Endowment for the Arts, Washington, D.C.

On Oct. 5, President Biden nominated Maria Rosario Jackson to chair the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). A professor in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts (HIDA) at Arizona State University, Jackson is a longstanding arts and humanities administrator whose experience includes state and federal appointments and a record of integrated arts and culture with community development. She previously worked at the Urban Institute and President Obama appointed her to the National Council on the Arts in 2013. Earlier this month, the U.S. Senate confirmed Jackson’s nomination on Dec 18, making her the first African American and Mexican American to head the NEA.

“The work of the NEA and the need for arts and creativity are more important now than ever. In addition to serving as an economic engine, arts and creativity are core to what it takes to heal our nation, our communities, and ourselves. …The NEA plays a crucial role in helping to provide funds and other resources needed for the sector to recover, retool, and reopen. The agency also has the opportunity and responsibility to deepen and expand its already purposeful efforts to reach communities who have been traditionally underserved.” — Maria Rosario Jackson


Meg Onli. | Photo by Marcus Maddox

Meg Onli, Director & Curator | The Underground Museum, Los Angeles, Calif.

The Underground Museum (UM) announced the appointment of Meg Onli as director and curator. Onli joined the Black-founded museum from the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where she served as associate curator. She is co-curator with Erin Christovale of “Ulysses Jenkins: Without Your Interpretation,” the first major retrospective of the pioneering video/performance artist. Onli is co-leading The Underground Museum with Cristina Pacheco, who serves as director and chief operations officer. The news was announced Oct. 11. Onli officially joined the UM on Dec. 1.


James Claiborne, 2021. | © Barnes Foundation

James Claiborne, Curator of Public Programs | Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, Pa.

On Oct. 12, the Barnes Foundation announced James Claiborne had joined the museum as curator of public programs. Previously, Claiborne served at the African American Museum in Philadelphia from 2015-2021, most recently as director of programming. He officially started at the Barnes in September.


Beverly Morgan-Welch. | © 2021 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo by Peter Ross.

Beverly Morgan-Welch, Senior Deputy Director | Musueum of Modern Art, New York, N.Y.

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) announced the appointment of Beverly Morgan-Welch as senior deputy director of external affairs on Oct. 12. Her portfolio includes oversight of MoMA’s outreach strategy, fundraising and sponsorship, membership, affiliate programs, special events, marketing, communications, and graphic design. Morgan-Welch joins MoMA from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) where she served as associate director for external affairs, from 2016 to 2021. Prior to the Smithsonian, she was executive director of the Museum of African American History in Boston and Nantucket; executive director of the Greater Hartford Arts Council (Conn.); and director of development at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford.


Marcus Desando. | Photo © Thando Mpushe

Marcus Tebogo Desando, Director | Prince Claus Fund in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

On Oct. 19, the Prince Claus Fund announced Marcus Tebogo Desando will serve as its new director, beginning in 2022. Desando has been serving as CEO of The Arts and Culture Trust in Johannesburg, South Africa, since 2017. The Prince Claus Fund was established “to support and connect artists and cultural practitioners in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and Eastern Europe, especially where they are under pressure.” In 2021, the fund adopted a new strategy, focusing on supporting individual creatives at various stages of their professional development.


Alisa Swindell. | Photo by Sean Su

Alisa Swindell, Associate Curator of Photography | Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College, Hanover, N.H.

Alisa Swindell was named associate curator of photography at the Hood Museum of Art on Oct. 21. Swindell specializes in the history of photography with a focus on race and sexuality. She previously served as curatorial research associate at the Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University. She has also been an independent curator, Bearden Fellow at the Saint Louis Art Museum, and Dangler Intern and curatorial researcher in the Art Institute of Chicago’s Department of Photography.


Anita Bateman. | Photo by Isaac James

Anita Bateman, Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art | Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in Houston, Texas

Anita Bateman joined the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), as associate curator of modern and contemporary art in October. Her appointment was announced on Oct. 26. Bateman previously served as a Mellon curatorial fellow in the Prints, Drawings, and Photographs Department at RISD Museum in Providence, R.I. (2017-19). She has also held internship positions at Williams College Museum of Art and the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. At MFA Houston, Bateman focuses on “exhibitions, acquisitions, and the display of the permanent collection, with a special focus on work by African American artists and on defining and expanding long-term collection goals.”


Isabelle Lutterodt. | Photo by HRDWRKER, Courtesy CAAM

Isabelle Lutterodt, Deputy Director | California African American Museum, Los Angeles, Calif.

The California African American Museum (CAAM) welcomed a new deputy director. Isabelle Lutterodt was appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom on Nov. 1. A curator, arts administrator, and community leader, since 2015, Lutterodt had served as director of Barnsdall Art Park, which includes the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (LAMAG). Established in 1954, LAMAG is “the longest running institution in Los Angeles devoted solely to exhibiting art.” Her previous roles include director of visual arts at Angels Gate Cultural Center in San Pedro, and exhibition manager at University Art Gallery, UC San Diego. Lutterodt officially joined CAAM on Dec. 2.

“CAAM has played a significant role in shaping my understanding of the importance of engaging communities in dialogue through exhibitions and public programs. I look forward to building on the Museum’s dynamic curatorial vision, expanding its educational programs, increasing access to the collections, and uplifting the achievements of African Americans throughout California’s history.” — Isabelle Lutterodt


Alexis Assam. | Photo by Sandra Sellars, © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Alexis Assam, Assistant Curator of Global Contemporary Art | Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Va.

On Nov. 4, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) announced the appointment of Alexis Assam to the position of Regenia A. Perry Assistant Curator of Global Contemporary Art. Assam joins VMFA from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where she was the Constance E. Clayton Curatorial Fellow in the Contemporary Art department, working on several exhibitions and installations including “Senga Nengudi: Topologies.” Previously, she was a Romare Bearden Graduate Museum Fellow at the Saint Louis Art Museum, where she co-curated “The Shape of Abstraction: Selections from the Ollie Collection.”


Jesse R. Erickson, 2021. | © The Morgan Library & Museum, Photo by Janny Chiu

Jesse R. Erickson, Curator and Department Head, Printed Books and Bindings | Morgan Library & Museum, New York, N.Y.

The Morgan Library & Museum appointed Jesse R. Erickson to the position of Astor Curator and Department Head, Printed Books and Bindings. The news was announced Nov. 10. At the University of Delaware, Erickson served previously as coordinator of Special Collections and Digital Humanities, assistant professor in the Department of English, and associate director of the Interdisciplinary Humanities Research Center. His research specialties include ethnobibliography, African American print culture, and the transnational publishing history of the Victorian period author Ouida. He officially joins the Morgan Library in January.

“Joining the Morgan Library & Museum represents one of the greatest honors of my life. I have long believed in the Morgan’s mission to develop, research, and interpret world-class collections for the advancement of learning and the enjoyment of the widest public. With such a rich variety of exhibitions and programs, in this position I see the opportunity to join a global conversation about the importance of art, history, and culture, to expand the cultural narrative, and to enrich the direction of our field. Such ideas hold great significance for me.” — Jesse R. Erickson


Eric Woods. | Courtesy MFA Boston

Eric Woods, Chief Operating Officer | Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in Boston, Mass.

On Nov. 15, Eric Woods was named chief operating officer at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In the key leadership role, he is expected to “elevate the experience of all visitors, optimize strategy and museum operations, and drive financial growth and a sustainable future.” Woods previously served as associate dean for Administration and Finance for Northeastern University’s Khoury College of Computer Science. He starts at MFA Boston on Jan. 4.


Jamillah James. | Photo by Jasmine Clarke

Jamillah James, Senior Curator | Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in Chicago, Ill.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago hired Jamillah James to serve as Manilow Senior Curator. The news was announced Nov. 17. MCA Chicago described her new role as leading the visual arts department and serving as a “driving force” in curatorial programming. James is joining the museum from the Institute of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (ICA LA) where she is senior curator. She co-organized the “2021 Triennial: Soft Water Hard Stone” at the New Museum in New York. On view through Jan. 23, the triennial features an international slate of emerging artists. James officially starts at MCA Chicago in January.


Essence Harden. | Photo by Joyce Kim

Essence Harden, Visual Arts Curator | California African American Museum, Los Angeles, Calif.

The California African American Museum (CAAM) named Essence Harden visual arts curator on Nov. 17. An independent curator and writer, Harden has previously collaborated with CAAM, serving as guest curator of “Shinique Smith: Refuge” (2018) and co-curator of “Plumb Line: Charles White and the Contemporary” (2019). At the Orange County Museum of Art, Harden is co-curating the 2022 California Biennial. She officially joined CAAM on Dec. 13.

Stephanie Sparling Williams. | Photo by Hector Membreno-Canales

Stephanie Sparling Williams, Curator of American Art | Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, N.Y.

On Nov. 18, the Brooklyn Museum announced the appointment of Stephanie Sparling Williams as the Andrew W. Mellon Curator of American Art. In addition to managing the museum’s collection of paintings, sculpture, and works on paper dating from the colonial period to 1960, she is shepherding “the Museum’s mission to expand the art historical canon by highlighting underrepresented narratives, including those of Black Americans, Indigenous peoples of the Americas, and women” and leading the Council for African American Art. Previously, Sparling Williams served as associate curator at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum. She was also a visiting lecturer in art history and African American studies at Mount Holyoke and author of the recently published volume “Speaking Out of Turn: Lorraine O’Grady and the Art of Language.” Sparling Williams joined the Brooklyn Museum earlier this month.


Curator Kimberli Gant. | Courtesy Brooklyn Museum

Kimberli Gant, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art | Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, N.Y.

On Nov. 18, the Brooklyn Museum announced Kimberli Gant will serve in a newly created position as curator of modern and contemporary art. Gant is joining the Brooklyn Museum from the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Va., where she was the McKinnon Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. Her forthcoming exhibition, “Black Orpheus: Jacob Lawrence and the Mbari Club” opens in October 2022 at the Chrysler Museum and will travel to the New Orleans Museum of Art and the Toledo Museum of Art. Gant officially starts at the Brooklyn Museum in January.


Eric Pryor flanked by paintings by John Neagle (“Pat Lyon at the Forge,” 1829) and Kehinde Wiley (Three Wise Men Greeting Entry into Lagos,” 2008). | Courtesy of JEH Creatives/Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Eric Pryor, President | Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pa.

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) in Philadelphia announced its next president on Dec. 9. Eric Pryor has been tapped to lead PAFA. Pryor is the first Black person to head the institution, which was established in 1805 and is the first and oldest art museum and art school in the United States. Pryor is joining PAFA from the Harlem School of the Arts, where he has served as president since 2015. His previous roles include executive director of The Center for Arts Education in New York; executive director of the New Jersey State Museum; and president of the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey. Earlier in his career, Pryor was executive director of the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation’s Center for Arts and Culture in Brooklyn, N.Y. Pryor officially begins at PAFA on Jan. 18.

“I am profoundly honored to be taking on the leadership of this historic and celebrated institution. I am eager to work in partnership with the PAFA board, staff, faculty, students, and alumni, and start writing its next magnificent chapter together. I’m also delighted to be returning to Philadelphia and its varied communities. It is a city of great art and artistry, with PAFA as one of its crown jewels.” — Eric Pryor


Crystal Williams | Photo by Jo Sittenfeld, Courtesy RISD

Crystal Williams, President | Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, R.I.

Crystal Williams is the new president of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). The school’s board of trustees announced her appointment on Dec. 16. A professor, poet, and diversity advocate, Williams brings more than two decades of higher education experience to RISD. She currently serves as vice president and associate provost for community & inclusion at Boston University, where she has also been a professor of English since 2017. Previously, Williams was associate vice president for strategic initiatives, professor of English, and senior advisor to the president at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine (2013–17). She began her academic career at Reed College in Portland, Ore., where she was a professor of English (2000–11) and later served as inaugural dean for institutional diversity (2011-13). The new presidential appointment is historic. Williams will be the first African American to lead RISD. She officially starts on April 1. CT


FIND MORE Culture Type has previously reported new curatorial and arts leader appointments in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020


READ MORE U.S. museum staff diversity has largely been gauged by a demographic surveys conducted by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Findings were published in 2015 and 2019. (A number of case studies were also released in 2017-18.)

FIND MORE about the Mellon survey findings on Culture Type


FIND MORE In April, Chrysler Museum of Art and Hampton University received $500,000 grant from Mellon Foundation to fund three-year fellowship program: Diversifying the Field of Curation and Conservation

FIND MORE In May, the Saint Louis Art Museum hosted Advancing Change, a national summit on museum diversity, a virtual event that drew on lessons from its longstanding Romare Bearden Graduate Museum Fellowship program


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